Wrong Side Surgery: When Left Is Right and Right Is Wrong
Surgeries on the “wrong side” of a patient’s body – also known as “wrong site surgeries” or “never events” – may be more common than you think.
In the United States, from 1990-2010:
- “Never events” were the subject of 9,744 malpractice settlements.
- Payments totaled $1.3 billion.
- About 6 percent of patients died.
- 32.9 percent suffered a permanent injury.
- 59.2 percent experienced temporary injuries.
Also, the Joint Commission, the primary accrediting agency for hospitals, estimates as many as 50 wrong side surgeries occur weekly, or 2,600 annually.
More recently, the errors were the subject of new research in Spain, where 80 incidents have been reported over the past decade – numbers that are likely low.
“The stark reality is that due to the lack of reporting to incident databases, these figures most likely represent an underestimate of the true situation,” said Dr. Daniel Arnal, who led the research.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
The Joint Commission has guidelines for preventing wrong site surgery.
Hospitals are required:
- To verify the surgical procedure to be performed
- To mark the surgical site in advance
- To take a “time out” immediately prior to the operation, where team members verify that they’ve got the right patient, that scan films aren’t reversed, and medical records and scans match the marked surgical site
Advice for patients includes:
- Speaking with the surgeon just prior to surgery about the specifics of the operation – before being prepped or given anesthesia.
- Insisting the surgeon, not nurses or other staff, mark the surgical site with a permanent marker.
- Confirming your procedure with nurses, anesthesiologists, radiologists and others as you interact with them before surgery.
- Talking to your doctor about the hospital’s procedures for preventing medical mistakes.
- Making sure the hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission.
Seek medical attention, even if it seems minor
If you’ve been the victim of a wrong side surgical error in Kansas, you’re undoubtedly dumbfounded such a blatant mistake was possible. More importantly, you may be suffering from physical, mental and emotional after-effects of the incorrect procedure. You may be unable to return to work for an extended period and support your family. You’re dealing with a hospital and doctors who are going to hide behind their lawyers and an insurance company determined to pay you as little as possible for your pain and suffering.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Warner Law Offices, in Wichita, have more than 25 years of experience handling negligence cases just like yours. They know wrong side surgery means someone did not follow established medical procedures. They will investigate your case, determine who is to blame, and secure a settlement for you and your family while treating you with dignity and compassion. Contact them today for a free consultation.